European Parliament to vote on Kashmir Report in May


Brussels, The plenary session of the EuropeanParliament (EP) is to debate and vote on its Kashmir Report during thethird week of May, the author of the report Baroness Emma Nicholson has announced.

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Her draft report titled “Kashmir: present situation and future prospects� was adopted by the EP’s Foreign Affairs Committee on 21March with 60 votes in favor and only one against and 11 abstentions.

The Kashmir Report has drawn keen interest not only in India and Pakistan but also in Europe. Once voted by the EP’s plenary session, it will be adopted as a European Union report on Kashmir which will have international ramifications.

Usually reports passed by such a large majority in a committee easily pass through the EP’a plenary session. However, pro-Pakistani British Members of the European Parliament(MEPs) and the Pakistani-backed Kashmir Centre in Brussels are lobbying intensely to introduce new amendments to the report.

28 compromise amendments were agreed by the rapporteur and the shadow rapporteurs from across the Political Groups in the Parliament. Originally 450 amendments were tabled to the draft.

Pakistan and Pakistani-supported Kashmiri groups had launched an intense campaign to have the report changed before the 21 March vote accusing Nicholson of being biased and pro-Indian. The report criticizes the democracy-deficit in Pakistan and brushes
aside Pakistan's persistent demand for plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir.

“ India is the world's largest secular democracy and has devolved democratic structures at all levels, whereas Pakistan still lacks full implementation of democracy in AJK and has yet to take steps towards democracy in Gilgit and Baltistan,’’ says the report.

It regrets “that Pakistan has consistently failed to fulfil its obligations to introduce meaningful and representative democratic structures in AJK; notes in particular the continuing absence of Kashmiri representation in the Pakistan National Assembly, the fact that AJK is governed through the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs in Islamabad, that Pakistan officials dominate the Kashmir Council and that the Chief Secretary, the Inspector-General of Police, the Accountant-General and the Finance Secretary are all from Pakistan.� It underlines “that the preconditions for using the plebiscite have not been met at present,� a reference which has especially angered Islamabad.

The report deplores “the continuing political and humanitarian situation in all four parts of Jammu and Kashmir; welcomes, however, the role of the composite peace process in moving towards a durable settlement for the Kashmiris based on democracy, the rule of law and respect for fundamental rights.�

An opinion piece in the newspaper Khaleej Times published on 10 April by a leading Kashmiri activist said, “In view of many ‘Kashmir Watchers’ the Pakistani campaign and diplomacy has failed. Their ‘generals in diplomacy’ and champions of human right have proved to be worse than their cricket heroes who at least won one match in the world cup competition.�

“Not long ago Emma Nicholson was demonised and projected as pro India, anti Pakistan, anti Kashmir, etc; but after the approval of her report on 21st March she was invited as a guest of honour to the Pakistan Day celebrations on 23rd in London where senior diplomats were bending over backwards to please and appease her,’’ wrote Dr. Shabir Choudhry, Chairman Diplomatic Committee of JKLF, Director Institute of Kashmir
Affairs and author of many books on Kashmir.

‘I have not seen such a detailed, balanced and pro people document on Kashmir before; and it could prove to be a point of reference for many future initiatives on the Kashmir dispute. It will also help people to understand the Kashmir dispute better, as it does not propagate official policy of either India or Pakistan,’’ he noted.